BEFORE we get to Christmas’ actual week this is a good point to ponder. Most of us will be “required” to attend family gatherings, mingle, and get along with relatives that the rest of the year we would cross the street to see let alone eat with. So what are we to do? The end of the year is a time we realize that what was okay this year should not be okay in the new year. It is okay to say no to what hurts you. You are in control! It is YOUR life and you should be able to be happy and live your life. The podcast that Alex and I recorded last week (link on the homepage) discusses this issue but here are some tips laid out in a blog post for you.
SET BOUNDARIES! This is more for you than others but yes, set them for others as well. Appropriate and healthy boundaries should always be a part of your life no matter the situation. There are personal, business, work, intimate, and many other types of boundaries. The way you interact with your significant other at home in the privacy of you bedroom is not the way you interact with them in the mall or at a religious service. The way you interact with co-workers is different from how you interact with your significant other. When you are headed for a contentious family get-together this holiday season, set some clear boundaries for yourself. Set a time limit for how long you will be at the gathering. Plan ahead of time who you will associate with the majority of the time at the gathering. Make a game plan on how you will get away from that uncle, grandmother, cousin, etc. that bothers you most of all. You can always, phone a friend or other confidant to talk you through the rough patches. Having a clear escape plan is key as is lining up who you can talk with when things get intense. Identify that one relative that feels similarly and can go out for a walk or drive with you when it gets to be too much.
SET A BUDGET! One other element of the holidays that seems to impact all of us is buying presents. You should never go into debt to give people presents. Draw this hard line with yourself before, BEFORE, you go shopping. Make the budget and stick to it. One of the major causes of holiday depression and anxiety is over spending during the season and knowing those bills are coming in January. Or worse yet, you’ve spent the money in your account that was to have paid your rent on January 1st. Everyone out here will understand if your gift is not expensive. Give what you can and leave it at that without fear. If someone at Christmas time is going to complain or be offended by what you give them, my opinion is that you shouldn’t have given them anything. Seriously, a gift is given with thought and purpose in nearly every instance. If you are going to fuss at me for what I give you, I’ll take it back and use it myself. Especially if it’s a restaurant gift card. Seriously. Determine how much money you have that can spend and divide that between those who will receive your gifts.
LIMIT FOOD AND DRINK INTAKE! It is a necessity during this season to manage your food consumption if it is something that concerns you on an every day basis. Another leading cause of depression and anxiety during the holidays is what people are eating and the quantity. Again we will talk about boundaries and limits. Set limits on how much you will eat of specific foods, what you can not worry about, and what you need to avoid at all costs. Do not set yourself up for a bad January because you are breaking your own rules during Christmas break. Also set some healthy and appropriate boundaries on how much you drink if you imbibe. Nothing would be worse than being “that” uncle, cousin, dad, grandmother, etc. Even in the best times someone who overindulges can ruin a party for the group but at a holiday party, that’s a show stopper. Just remember, healthy limits and everything in moderation.
GRIEF AND LOSS! This is one topic that gets all of us in varying degrees. Loss is a factor that we all must deal with multiple times throughout our lives. It can come in the form of death, divorce, break-up, lay-off, or any number of ways that we lose something that has meaning for us. The key to experiencing loss is to manage how much we allow this loss to affect the rest of our life. There are many techniques and what works for one may not work for another. The critical element that does help everyone is that you are honest about your feelings and the impact that the specific loss is having on you throughout the year. During the holidays this grief and loss can raise its head and consume you and any chance at a happy holiday season. In most situations it helps to reach out and find someone to talk with to make sense of the loss. A reminder though, seek a therapist that can help guide you in your journey with loss. Especially if the family as a whole is struggling with loss as well. There are groups and organization that specialize in grief counseling. A quick Google search leave a comment I can help will get you in touch.
FIND YOUR CENTER! It is important before you attend holiday events that you meditate on where you want to be and all of the boundaries, goals, and restrictions you’ve placed on yourself. The good news is that people survive the holidays every year and you can too. You made it through last year right? So you can make it through this year. If last year was rough meditate on what could have been better, what you could do better or different this year, or what “traditions” you should avoid this time around. Spending some time focusing on you, your feelings, and what your expectations are for the holidays is important. Set expectations that are reasonable and attainable. If your [relative] has never been kind to you do not expect them to change this year. If your [relative] is always bringing a dish to dinner that you loath do not expect them to bring anything different. Set yourself up for success this holiday season. Be good, be happy! Namaste!